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2013: The year I learn to RELAX

I look forward to the New Year every year.   It’s not about a New Year’s outfit, champagne filled parties or dancing till the wee hours.  There is just something about a brand new year that inspires me.

It marks a new beginning and who doesn’t love a new beginning?

For the past two years instead of making New Year’s Resolutions I have embraced a Fruit of the Spirit.  The first year I chose JOY and the second year I chose LOVE.  Both years were challenging in ways that didn’t give me the Fruit I desired but instead caused me to develop them within my present circumstances.

The year I chose JOY we had to move out of our home for 6 months—-over Christmas and with our newest daughter. She didn’t get to spend her first Christmas in our home.  That year each of our children celebrated their birthdays in a cramped  rental home,  void of our usual traditions and surroundings.

The year I chose love I found it incredibly hard to love someone I desperately wanted to.

So you can see why I was hesitant to make a choice this year.  Unlike previous years, this year I contemplated what might happen to me if I chose this particular Fruit of the Spirit over that one.  I’m sure that is probably against the rules, but that’s what I did.

In the end, I decided not to choose a Fruit of the Spirit this year and instead just embrace a word.

My word for this year is to RELAX.

I need to relax my housekeeping standards.  It’s okay if the house isn’t photo ready for a shoot in Architectural Digest.  There are 5 healthy and active children who live and learn here.  It’s okay for my house to look like it.  In fact, it’s a blessing for my house to look like it.

I need to just relax.  I need to indulge in activities that are RELAXING, not necessarily productive or necessary.   It’s okay to have moments where you aren’t really doing anything productive.  It’s okay if someone sees you on the sofa, reading a book, playing a game—-and the laundry isn’t done.

I need to not glorify the act of being busy and instead take glory in just soaking it all in and enjoying the fruits of my labors (and blessings).

I need to relax my parenting standards.  I need to stop beating myself up about the ways I could improve my parenting.  My children love me.  I am a good mother.  I am not perfect, but I am enough. They are happy, healthy and know that they are loved.  I should just RELAX and enjoy this season with them, before it passes.

I need to relax about blogging, SEO, comments, traffic and just write.   Write because I have something to share.  Write because I am a writer and that’s what we do.  Write for my soul.  Write for my memories.  I need to just keep writing because that’s how you get better at something.  After that, whatever happens, happens.

What are you choosing for 2013?


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7 Questions that scare me & 3 for fun!

This past weekend I was inspired to “Blog Dangerously” by another writer/blogger that I had an opportunity to spend time with at the Type A Conference.  Just saying those words makes my heart race with excitement. For me it means writing without FEAR of judgement.  

Here are 7 questions that scare me & 3 for fun!

How do you do it all?

Quite simply, I don’t.  I sleep about 4-5 hours per night due to my insomnia.  I have an extraordinary amount of energy, my husband refers to me as “a machine” and he’s not always bragging about that. I thrive being busy. I cannot relax. On vacation it takes me 2 days to turn off my brain and I have to go far, far, away if I need to be still. Where there is nothing to do but be still.  That said, we have a housekeeper to keep the house going and although we don’t currently have a nanny, we’ve had one in the past, sporadically.  We use babysitters and mother’s helpers too.  We don’t have family to rely on for childcare or  neighbors who want to watch our kids. If it’s not my husband and/or I watching the kids we have to pay someone. 

Why do you homeschool when you can afford private school?

There are many reasons to homeschool and it’s not just about religion or not being able to afford Private School. I don’t think there is any right answer to this question. There is only OUR answer.  Quite simply, it works for us. It works for our family and we believe that it is the best place for our kids to be right now.  We put a lot into their education and our time together as a family.  We believe, as in most things, you get what you put into it.   Our children are thriving and learning because  we invest in our children’s education and each of them as individuals.  Travel is also a big part of our lifestyle and we use it as a tool for their education. You can follow along on our homeschooling adventures on our homeschool blog, Passport Academy.  Our homeschool isn’t perfect, but we see the blessings.  Our decision to homeschool is just one parental choice (out of many) that we make for our children.  It isn’t a reflection or response to anything you may choose to do, or not do. Please give us the same respect.

Do you ever worry about your husband cheating on you when he’s on the road?

No.  I am well aware that a marriage can fall apart or a spouse can cheat whether they work in town or on the road.  I choose not to live my life worrying about things that would never cross my mind to do and project them onto my spouse. I don’t have a magic formula or a concrete reason to give.  Giving one would mean that I believe that I have control over whether or not a spouse would cheat or that they have control over me.  I don’t believe this. Of course you need to work on your marriage, but ultimately, it comes down to trust. I don’t worry about my husband cheating on me because I trust him. He has never given me reason not to.  Not every man/woman who travels is a cheat and not every man/woman who works in town is faithful.

5 of the 6 Reasons I get up in the morning

Why do you have so many children?

We never set out to have a specific amount of children, although I do recall once saying I wanted 4-6 children when we got married.  We think our children are a blessing. We can afford to raise the children we have. We enjoy parenting.  We believe this is the size family we were meant to have.  There isn’t one in the bunch we want to return. Go figure?

Bean’s Dedication

How did you get a baby so fast?

Our youngest daughter, Bean, formerly known as Little Sister was placed into our arms through the miracle/gift of adoption.  We used a traditional method for domestic adoption —we went through a local domestic placement agency that had a flat rate agency fee ($25,000).  We were told the average adoption could take up to 2 years.  There is not however “a list”.  You are chosen by the birth mother/father who are placing their child.  Several families are presented at once.  I believe our particular story was an answer to prayer.  I prayed for unusual sense of peace and speed.   Although it was not without heartache and worry.  I now believe all adoptions have their share of drama.  There is a labor involved in having a child whether you have that child through adoption or give birth from your own womb.  I do not know who to call to get a baby fast.  Building a family is not like buying a handbag. However, if you would like to know how to get a Birkin bag fast, I’ve got a few tips.

Is it true you were a model?

Yes, I modeled for about 10 years throughout the United States, South Africa and Greece. I have been represented by Ford Models, Michelle Pommier and Wilhelmenia (to name a few). I primarily did Catalog and some editorial. I walked the runway once for Betsy Johnson and it was both thrilling and terrifying.  I also posed for Playboy Magazine when I was 22 years old.  While I did not have a “bad experience” with it at the time, it has proven to be an occasional roadblock in my current life and it is something that I don’t believe is in line with my religious beliefs.  I don’t talk about it because it’s a non-issue to me. I have moved on with my life. There is a fine line between shame and choosing not to glorify something. I don’t feel shame. (Romans 8:1)   However some women have tried to shame me in my life.  They don’t want to accept that I am a homeschool mother, a housewife,  or a Christian because I made a choice that is not in line with the person they see before them, or their perceptions of what a woman or Christian is.  They want to believe that  I am not who I say I am. Rather than, believe that I am a new person with a different testimony than them.  My friends in real life are generally SHOCKED and bust out laughing when they find out. I am extremely shy and no I’m not an exhibitionist. No one could be more shocked than my friends, family or ex-husband when the issue came out.   I honestly really didn’t think anyone would ever see that issue.  Seriously.  Stop laughing Laura.  

How did you get such a perfect life?

I don’t have a perfect life, but I have the perfect life for me.  I have survived childhood sexual abuse, divorce, being a step mother, infertility and the day to day pains of being a woman on this earth.  I am grateful for the blessings, I now embrace the trials and I try to move on with grace. 

 What kind of car do you drive to fit your family?

This is my FAVORITE question because it was so thrilling for me to find the “perfect” vehicle for our family.  We drive an extended GMC Savana. It seats 9 extremely comfortably! I am working on a video tour of this vehicle because I love it so much…and no this isn’t a sponsored post. We have no affiliation with the company, outside of being a customer.

Have you stopped blogging?

I have not stopped blogging, but my blogging has become erratic. It needed to because of some things going on in our personal life.  However, I’m pleased to announce that I’m working on a special relaunch of this blog to debut on July 16th.  I am looking forward to blogging more intentionally and regularly on the things that interest me: Family, Faith, Organizing, Decorating, Party Planning, Homemaking, Mothering, Shopping, Beauty/Fashion and whatever else is on my mind. 

Playing Dress Up is still fun

Why do you call yourself a Trophy Mom sometimes?

It’s a joke.  I’m the 2nd wife to a man 15 years older than me. That makes me a “Trophy Wife” although we joke I’m more into being the “Trophy Mom” because instead of being a lady who lunches, I’m a lady who homeschools and loves being with her kids & doing everything I can to make their childhood the opposite of mine.  I don’t really fit into any specific niche and I’ve decided to just embrace that. I’ve always been a bit of a walking dichotomy.  I also think motherhood deserves a trophy. Don’t you?

This post is part of Angie’s Top Ten Tuesday, and the iHomeschool Network’s 10 week series “10 in 10.”

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Finding my voice

I know it’s in there.  Somewhere between the serious Don’t-make-me-have-to-tell-you-again Mom voice and the soft little girl voice that still makes callers inquire, “is your mom or dad home?” when I answer the phone.

I’m of course talking about my true voice.  The one that is left when all pretense and past hurts is stripped away. The one I tucked away for safe keeping when I grew up in a house that was not safe.  Where I learned that your true self is best kept from everyone, including yourself.  Because it’s uglyJust like you.
Shhhh, don’t tell

That no one would believe that a girl who grew up to model would ever believe she was ugly is just as astonishing to me as to others.  But hey, if they’re willing to pay me I’ll play along.  

Maybe someone will love me then?

The girl in the Lands’ End catalog, Claire’s Jewelry Boutique and issue of Woman’s Day magazine wasn’t me.   Not really.  It was the pretend me.  The girl I longed to be in my head but knew I wasn’t in my heart.  The girl who could only emerge after an hour and a half of hair and  make-up.  

Then she was pretty.  
Then she was valued.  
At least for the moment.

Modeling was the best way to pretend to be someone else. Dressed by a wardrobe stylist.  Perfect lighting.  Excellent photography. Flawless hair and make-up.

It takes a lot to hide who you really are.   A costume put on to be someone else.  This girl was masterful at learning to be what others wanted her to be.  It is the only way to survive

 Shhhh, don’t tell.

Afterwards it seemed she could forget or at least pretend it didn’t matter that she was really none of things people thought.

She wasn’t confident or beautiful.
Her life wasn’t perfect.
She wasn’t Daddy’s little girl or her Mother’s pride and joy.

She was broken.
She was damaged goods.

Shhhh, don’t tell

But what if finding my voice means finding the courage to tell?  What will my voice sound like then?
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Hello Again!

First, I want to thank so many of you kind readers who sent me notes and words of encouragement during my quiet time on this blog.  Your prayers, emails and kind thoughts truly meant a lot to me.  I had been quiet during a very chaotic time in our family’s life and something had to give for my survival—so I chose blogging.  Interestingly enough my quiet time followed a post a wrote about being under attack—-and my silence had nothing to do with that post.

After building our “dream home” we found out it wasn’t as much as a dream as we’d hoped. I cannot say much (because of the lawsuit) but basically we had to move out for 5 1/2 months with 5 kids, in the middle of the Christmas holidays and our homeschool year, into a much smaller (cramped) space.  During this time I tried to learn to be content in all circumstances, and failed miserablySo I have much to work on.

Now, in a whirlwind, we are finally back in our home!  We moved in (although there was still work being done to and in the house) a week before our 10 day trip to Italy (an early gift from Big Daddy for my 40th birthday—-in November) and I’m busy playing catch up.  

Catching up on the unpacking, organizing and decluttering.  Catching up on the homeschooling—we will have a 45 minute summer break this year, and I ‘m so not kidding about that!

You can read about our trip to Italy and my other travels on my new Travel BlogI will update it as we travel and always have a little link over here and on my Twitter account when I do add something.

In the coming weeks I will share photos from our home and blog about decorating, organizing and share what God is showing me in this season of my life.

Thank-you for reading!

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Sometimes you need to pour your heart out

For me the written word has always been the best way for me to express myself. When I began blogging I wasn’t sure what I would blog about. What would I share? Who would I tell about my blog. And if I told no one, then who would even read what I wrote, muchless care?

So, I just started writing slowly, (if starting with 3 blogs at once could be considered slow) being careful about how much I shared and not really knowing what direction I would be going in.

Then I started reading blogs. Reading them voraciously (if having over 150 blogs in your reader could be considered voracious) and really caring about the authors of those blogs. Hurting when they hurt and truly feeling joy when they did.

It changed my perspective on blogging.

It changed my heart.

It changed my writing.

Here are links to posts I’ve written that I feel qualify as pouring my heart out:

About me

It’s tough being a woman

Mother’s Day: It’s complicated

3 Things not to say to someone going through infertility treatments

What I want you to know about IVF

What I want you to know…

The road to motherhood that infertility built

For other Pour Your Heart Out posts or to join in and link up to your own posts, please go here.

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